II (Nervous Intent)
Reviewed by Alejandra Ramirez, Fri., May 19, 2017
Apropos of album art depicting a red-hued figure choking themselves under a white sheet, Crooked Bangs' II grabs you by the throat with an asphyxiating bludgeon and discordant mélange of distortion. Picking up where their eponymous 2012 debut left off, the Austin trio's lupine punk burrows down into dark catacombs as singer Leda Ginestra howls Frankenstein-like horrors. This time they're paired with fellow ATX scenester and Ghetto Ghouls drummer Ian Rundell, who fleshes out the Bangs' ballast of gothic punk noir in Phillip Gonzalez's tom-tom speed workouts and Sam Wendel's guitar progressions. Ginestra relates a hell of lofty, dark castles, flesh pacts, and blood as "Interlude" quickens the pace of industrial-smeared feedback, and "Le Phenix" and "Rabbit Hole" barrel down a back-alley of rot and decay. Guttural heaves and cacophonous screeches, she eventually morphs into a wolf, teeth gnashed with a low-registered growl as "We Are Gold" prods with a hypnotic drone until revving up into a breakneck slosh of fuzz. Amidst ferocious drum work and slit-throat instrumentation, Crooked Bangs' II grips the jugular vise-like and never lets go.